Tokyo-bound Indian fencer Bhavani Devi feels that the entire country is now behind him after she was recently selected for the government-aided TOPS programme. The Chennai-based athlete created history by becoming the first-ever Indian athlete from fencing to qualify for the Olympics.
It was a few months ago that Bhavani Devi was stuck in her Chennai apartment during the lockdown and was devoid of practice sessions. Desperate to keep the action going, the fencer sparred with stuffed dummies mounted on a platform on the terrace. But, the hard times have passed by.
The hard work put in was rewarded, with Devi qualifying for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, in the Sabre event, thus becoming the first-ever Indian fencer to achieve the feat. Recently, she was selected for the government-aided TOPS (Top Olympics Podium Scheme) support system, a scheme the fencer is glad to be a part of.
"I am really glad on being selected in TOPS as it is one of the most important (prestigious) scholarships program and support for any athlete. I know many athletes who have achieved better after being supported by TOPS and I always wanted to be in this kind of support (system)," said Bhavani Devi, as reported by ANI.
TOPS is a prestigious scholarship programme, where athletes are provided financial support for travel, training, equipment, along with a monthly allowance of Rs 50,000 for personal use. Bhavani Devi, who has struggled financially to support her expenses, feels that the new beginnings would help her improve as a player.
"I have struggled a lot in the beginning of my career where I lacked good support and felt alone in my journey and now, I feel the whole country is with me. With this scheme, with the support from the government and the world watching the Olympics, I know I am now with a team and not alone anymore. I am very happy and know this will help me perform better and with far much less stress," added the Tokyo-bound fencer.